Oil Tanks Facts in Victoria BC Homes 

In Victoria, BC, as in many older cities, residential properties may have buried or above-ground oil tanks that were used historically for heating purposes. As natural gas and electric heating became more popular, many homeowners stopped using oil heat, and the tanks were often left in place. These abandoned or unused oil tanks can pose environmental hazards and financial liabilities, so awareness and proper management are crucial.

Key Facts about Oil Tanks

1. Age and Materials:
  • Most oil tanks installed before the 1970s were made of bare steel, which is susceptible to rusting and leaking over time.
  • Tanks generally have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years, meaning many existing tanks are well beyond their serviceable life.
2. Environmental Concerns:
  • Leaking tanks can contaminate soil and groundwater with petroleum or other hazardous substances.
  • Cleanup of contaminated sites can be expensive and is typically the responsibility of the property owner.
3. Legal and Insurance Issues:
  • Homeowners are legally required to remove or remediate abandoned oil tanks to prevent leaks and environmental damage.
  • Many insurance companies in BC may not insure a property that has an active or decommissioned underground oil tank due to the potential for leaks and environmental liability.
4. Real Estate Implications:
  • The presence of an oil tank can affect the value and marketability of a property.
  • During real estate transactions, the seller must typically disclose the presence of any known oil tank.

Discovering Oil Tanks

1. Visual Inspection:
  • Look for signs such as fill pipes, vent pipes, or feed lines into the home. These can often be seen in older homes and are indicative of an oil heating system.
  • Above-ground tanks may be found in basements, garages, or outside the home.
2. Property Records and Historical Data:
  • Checking old property records, insurance documents, or municipal building permits can provide clues about the installation of an oil tank.
3. Professional Inspection:
  • Specialized companies in Victoria use equipment like ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to detect buried oil tanks.
  • It’s advisable to hire a professional if there’s any suspicion or indication of an oil tank on the property.

Removal and Remediation

  1. Hiring a Professional: Removal and remediation should be handled by certified professionals who specialize in hazardous materials. They ensure that the tank is safely removed and that any contamination is properly addressed.
  2. Permits and Documentation: The local government or environmental authorities may require permits for tank removal. Proper documentation of the removal and remediation process is also crucial for legal and real estate purposes.
  3. Soil Testing: This is often required to determine if any contamination has occurred. If contamination is found, a more extensive remediation process may be necessary.


For properties still using oil heating, regular inspections and maintenance of the tank are essential to prevent leaks and extend the tank's life. Converting to a different heating system and properly decommissioning the oil tank can also eliminate potential risks.In Victoria, BC, the awareness around these issues has grown, and many resources are available for homeowners to manage oil tanks responsibly. Consulting with local experts and authorities can provide guidance specific to the area’s regulations and requirements.

The information provided in these posts are for general purposes only. It is not written nor intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind. No one should act upon, refrain from acting, based solely upon the materials provided & recorded, or through any hypertext links and other general information, without first seeking appropriate legal and/or other professional advice.